04 SES 01 B, Teacher Views
Background and rationale for the study: During the last decades of the twentieth century, as well as more recently, governments of many European countries have introduced legislation intended to promote more inclusive education systems (European Agency for Development, 2011). Yet, despite changes to national policies, the necessary corresponding developments in classroom practices do not seem to have been so easily achieved. It seems clear that a commitment to inclusive education, as expressed in national policies, is of limited value unless it can be ‘translated into working practices that enable successful learning outcomes to be achieved’ (Rose, et al., 2010: 370).
Numerous studies indicate that whilst the majority of classroom teachers are highly committed to the principles of inclusive education, they are anxious about working with classes that comprise an increasingly diverse range of learners. In particular, teachers believe they do not have the necessary specialist knowledge, skills and expertise to meet the needs of students identified as having special needs and disabilities. (e.g. Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Blecker & Boakes, 2010; Lopes, Monteiro & Sil, 2004; Lyser, Kapperman & Keller 1994; Ofsted, 2008; Jordan, Schwartz & McGhie-Richmond, 2009; Ross-Hill, 2009). These studies indicate that teachers’ concerns about inclusive classroom practices are enduring in nature, consistent across different national settings, and shared by more and less experienced colleagues.
This deep-rooted professional unease has serious consequences for both teachers and learners in schools. It also has important implications for teacher educators, if student teachers entering the profession are to be given the support they need to be confident and capable classroom practitioners at the beginning of their careers (Forlin, 2010). The research and practice project reported in this proposal sets out to understand more fully the concerns and experiences of student teachers and in so doing to contribute to this broad aim.
General description of the study and research questions:The study examines student teachers’ perspectives on learner diversity in classrooms. The work is enhanced by being a comparative study of the views and understandings of student teachers from both Germany and England, enabling similarities and differences in the current contexts of these two countries to be explored and, specifically, in terms of the developing the professionalisation of teachers with regards to inclusive classroom practices. The research also considers the implications of the student teachers’ understandings of learner diversity for the future work of teacher educators in these two settings and elsewhere.
Three main research questions shape the study:
- What are student teachers’ understandings of learner diversity in primary and secondary classrooms in England and Germany? And why do they hold these views?
- What are the similarities and differences in these understandings when comparing student teachers in Germany with their peers in England?
- What are the implications for teacher educators who seek to support student teachers to become confident and capable classroom practitioners?
Avramidis, E. & Norwich, B. 2002. Teachers' attitudes towards integration/inclusion: a review of the literature, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17, 2, 129-147 Black-Hawkins, K. & Florian, L. (2012) Teachers' craft knowledge of their inclusive practice, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 18, 5, 567-584. Blecker, N.S. & Boakes, N.J. (2010) Creating a learning environment for all children: are teachers able and willing?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14:5, 435 - 447. European Agency for Development, (2011) Participation in Inclusive Education: A Framework for Developing Indicators (www.european-agency.org/publications) Fisher, L. (2012): Discerning change in young students’ beliefs about their language learning through the use of metaphor elicitation in the classroom, Research Papers in Education, iFirst. In C. Forlin (Ed.) (2010) Teacher Education for Inclusion: Changing Paradigms and Innovative Approaches, London: Routledge. Jordan, A., Schwartz, E & McGhie-Richmond, D. (2009) Preparing teachers for inclusive classrooms, Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 535–542. Lakoff, G. & M. Johnson (1980) Metaphors we Live by, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lakoff, G., Lopes, J., Monteiro, I. & Sil, V. (2004) Teachers’ perceptions about teaching problem students in regular classrooms, Education and Treatment of Children, 27, 4, 394–419. Lyser, Y., Kapperman, G. & Keller, R. (1994) Teacher attitudes towards mainstreaming: a cross cultural study in six nations, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 9, 1, 1–15. Rose, R., Shevlin, M., Winter, E. & O’Raw, P. (2010) Special and inclusive education in the Republic of Ireland: reviewing the literature, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25, 4, 359-373. Ross-Hill, R. 2009. Teacher attitude towards inclusion practices and special needs students, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 9, 3, 188-198. Shaw, D.M. & Mahlios, M. (2011) Literacy metaphors of pre-service teachers: do they change after instruction? Journal of Education for Teaching, 37: 1, 77-92.
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